Director/writer James Wan and writer/actor Leigh Whannell return for the second Insidious film which picks up shortly after the first film ended continuing off the troubling reveal that Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson) is no longer Josh but some malignant spirit that has come back from The Further with him, and killed Elise (Lin Shaye).
While Renai (Rose Byrne) and Josh’s mother (Barbara Hershey) attempt to hold the crumbling family together, they learn that Josh is not Josh and the hauntings are continuing. Happily, Specs (Whannell) and Tucker (Angus Sampson) are still in the picture, attempting to process the loss of Elise and try to help the Lambert family.
The spookiness continues as the film unearths the true nature of the Bride in Black, the murders committed by them, and what that may mean for the entire Lambert clan. Specs and Tucker call in an old friend of Elise’s to help, Carl (Steve Coulter), and why he doesn’t have the same appeal as Elise (who really made the first film pop) he’s solid.
And of course, since we’re dealing with the dead, ghosts, spirits, and worse, perhaps Elise isn’t completely gone after all.
There are parallels between the two realms, the Lamberts and the Bride in Black, both tie directly into parents and their children, how they are raised and loved. They are literally opposites, and one wants what the other has.
It builds nicely off the first one, in fact, the film pulls a Back to the Future Part II, by having the characters interact with events that we saw in the first film, which allows the viewer to see them in a new way. It’s a nice touch.
In fact, watched together the two films are solid ghost stories and do exactly what they set out to accomplish; tell a ghost/haunted house story that entertains. While it doesn’t have the same sense of discovery and play that the first film had, it does hint at a bigger spiritual world, confirming that there is more beyond The Further and that there are truly evil things in The Further.
This story feels like it wants to be more focused on Renai, but in this film, like the first, she is passive and reactive for a large part of the film, and I think that’s a bit of a disservice to her. She steps up when she absolutely has to, but simply reacts the remainder of the time. That doesn’t make Byrne any less delightful, I just wish she could have been given more to do.
Now, I move on to the third chapter, which is apparently a prequel. Does that mean we’re leaving the Lambert family behind? And whats with Specs and Tucker, will they realize that Elise is still working with them, from beyond the grave (that would only play for so long before it got silly, I think)?